Yes, PARO the baby seal robot from Master of None is real

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Sheree Joseph

PARO the seal's cameo on Master of None.

PARO the seal's cameo on Master of None. Photo: Master of None

There comes a time in everyone's Netflix binge sesh where they question their own existence and the meaning of life. What is true and real? What is fabricated? Who am I? How do I get Dorito crumbs from out of the keyboard? 

Recently I had a very similar existential crisis while watching Master Of None. The show felt very real, less like a staged comedy and more like a surreal short film that more closely mimicked our own lives.

If you've seen it, you may recall the PARO episode. PARO the seal makes his debut appearance in episode eight. Some might even say he's the star of the entire show.

Don't be so quick to dismiss this robotic toy seal intended to provide companionship to the elderly in need of love, attention and special care, for PARO the seal is a real and actual thing that exists in the world. I'm not kidding, PARO is an automated robot that reacts to touch, light and temperature. It actually seems like it is alive!

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Here's PARO hanging out with a nun:

And here’s PARO with his new mate Obama, which, let’s face it, already gives him royalty status (Obama that is).

According to the official PARO website: "By interaction with people, PARO responds as if it is alive, moving its head and legs, making sounds, and showing your preferred behaviour. PARO also imitates the voice of a real baby harp seal."

But there's more to PARO than meets the eye. PARO isn't just some distraction to keep the lonely at bay. He's a form of therapy for people with dementia.

"PARO seal is a therapeutic robot that is used to engage people living with dementia and it gives them the opportunity to give and receive unconditional love and in so doing, increases their sense of well being which is essential for person-centred care".

Complete with high-end tech and adorableness to boot, PARO is 100% legit the real medical deal. Naturally like all good things in life, this means PARO doesn't come cheap. Until I find the time to raise a petition calling for PARO to be funded by our health system, it will set you back $6000 to buy it outright or $200 per month which is a bargain if you ask me, since, as they say, you can't put a price tag on unconditional love.

Still need convincing? Here are just some of the many benefits of PARO the seal:

  • PARO has been proven to reduce stress
  • PARO stimulates interaction between patients and caregivers
  • PARO can improve relaxation and motivation thanks to the psychological effect it has on its owners
  • PARO helps with socialisation of patients
  • It was certified by Guinness World Records as the World's Most Therapeutic Robot
  • It's bloody adorable, have you seen it in action?! Watch now. 

Originally published via The Vocal